Getting into mindfulness for newbies, a how-to guide if you have 10 or 30 minutes to be mindful

Paying attention can pay off with less stress, more joy, and even weight loss.

“Mindfulness” is a word we're hearing a lot these days, but as trendy as it appears to be, it's also a fairly simple concept. Being mindful simply means being present in the here and now. Simple—but effective.

 

 

Reaping the benefits

 

Becoming more aware can lower levels of anxiety, reduce conflict in relationships, and even enhance your overall well-being. Plus, it can help you feel calmer and less likely to respond emotionally or to act in ways that aren't helpful.

 

So it's ironic that when we are stressed and anxious, we frequently try to escape those feelings by watching TV, surfing the web—or even, yeah, eating. But fleeing the mental tumult doesn't help in the long run. A simpler, if counterintuitive alternative: Tune in, not out.

 

Paying attention to your surroundings, your food, and your actions can help right away (you slow your racing pulse, enjoy food more, and are even less injury-prone), and over time by helping you make more thoughtful choices. In fact, becoming mindful is part of self-monitoring, a skill that assists you lose weight.

 

How to be mindful

 

If you have…

 

10 minutes: Find a quiet place—possibly in your car or in the bathroom—where no one can bother you. Some members find it beneficial to hold a memento of a relaxing time, such as a seashell, a pebble or a leaf. Just close your eyes, relax your jaw, breathe and remember the feelings of being in that serene time and place.

 

20 minutes: Leave your to-do list and phone behind and take a 20-minute walk. Focus on the here and now: the sidewalk, the sound of sprinklers, the warmth of the sun, the caressing breeze.

 

30 minutes: Try a few relaxing yoga poses, like this routine, which promotes relaxation as well as awareness. Not into yoga? Take a bath, dance to a favorite song, or try some simple, ease-out-the-kinks stretches.